Tuesday, November 25, 2014

16th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 22

Today marks Elder Benjamin Steenblik's 5 month mark!!!!!

This is a Belgian staircase, or as I like to call it, a ladder.  You can't really tell how steep it is in the photo, but just look at how my feet barely fit halfway on the stair.  (His shoes are size 14!!)

Here is a super famous Belgian statue.  It was a little bit of a let down because it was only about a foot tall.

Mom, you made our photo collection!


I'm still alive!!! P-day was on Tuesday this week because the dang train people were on strike yesterday.

This past week has been a bit crazy! On Thursday, we spent the whole day with the camera crew.  They interviewed us for like 2 hours.  They asked stuff about how Belgians react to us, the differences in cultures, and a few short questions about church doctrine.  It went really well! Of course if in the hands of bad people, they could mess with it and make us look super dumb, but we will see.  After the interview, we went and knocked some doors with them.  The people whose houses we knocked hated it.  They already weren't too happy seeing 2 "Jehovah's Witnesses" standing at their door and then when they saw the camera crew on their front lawn filming them, they would just close the door.  Then we decided to go contact in the centrum.  The camera crew would stand from a ways away and we had mics on and that went a lot better.  All in all, it was pretty good.  I am expecting some of the big wigs to start recruiting me soon!! Maybe NBC or FOX or who knows.  I mean, every star has to start somewhere.

On Sunday, we had Thanksgiving dinner at our Bishops house.  On Thursday, we have a Zone Conference in the Netherlands with a General Authority, so we will be spending our Thanksgiving evening on a train ride home to Belgium.  That's why we did it on Sunday.  It sure made me miss some good ol' American cookin' from my lovely mother and grandmother.  Sadly, they didn't have any stuffing, but it's okay because rumor has it, I'm getting some boxes of stuffing sent to me for Christmas.  Sweet!!!!

A lot of appointments fell through this week, but we did have a couple of good ones.  We taught the restoration to 2 of our new investigators and they are both pretty positive.  We have a follow up lesson with one of them tomorrow.  We also had a good lesson with Bea.  We taught her part of the Plan of Salvation and her 3 teenage daughters sat in on the lesson too and it was really cool.  The daughters committed to come to church next week, but it's hard for Bea to get there because she pretty much works every Sunday.  She is a super solid investigator!

Today, we had the Turkey Bowl with our Zone in Antwerpen where we played AMERICAN football.  Believe it or not, not one single Elder threw a tissy fit over the game.  It's because our Zone is super chill.  Afterwards we went out to eat.

It has officially gotten freeeezing here!!! Utah is cold, but you have cars.  Here, you are always on a bike so it's super cold.  Plus it is humid and cold which can stink!

This upcoming week we will be busy with our Zone Conference and we have some good appointments scheduled, so I am excited.  God is onze hemelse vader en hij houdt van ons!!

                -- Elder Blink van Steen

Monday, November 17, 2014

15th letter from Leuven, Belgium --- Week 21

Elder Glen Steenblik and Sister Jayne Steenblik, and Elder Benjamin Steenblik  (Thursday, November 13, 2014)
The delicious meal that Elder Glen Steenblik and Sister Jayne Steenblik fixed for Ben and his companion, Elder Ryan Cockbain

Bikes, bikes and more bikes

This last week has been freaking awesome! We kept really busy and stomped the yard.

We had 6 dinner appointments! We average 2.  Last Sunday, I just decided I was going to go up to people and straight up ask them when they had time that week that we could come over for a visit.  And it worked! It wasn’t pushy or anything, and they loved having us over, so it was okay.  On Sunday, when we were leaving church, one of the families came up and asked us if we wanted to come over for lunch. We went and had a huge awesome lunch with them and then 3 hours later, we had dinner with the bishop.  I haven’t eaten that much food in I don’t know how long.  I felt like I was going to blow up! One of our dinner appointments this week was with Elder Glen and Sister Jayne Steenblik! They are a senior couple serving in the Paris mission and live in Brussels.  We are somehow related! We had an awesome time with them and had super good food.

Yesterday, was an awesome Sunday.  We had our ward primary program and it was just adorable.  There was also a TON of people at church too.  A lot of the less active members came for the primary program and it’s the most people I have seen at church since I have been here.

During church yesterday, we had an interview with a guy from a TV network.  We gonna be on TV! On Thursday, he and a camera crew are going to come film us and interview us.  Luckily in English!  It is a TV show about foreign people who come to Belgium and why they came and they thought it would be cool to get some missionaries.  He started the filming yesterday and just asked a bunch of questions about everything.  What the process is of coming on a mission, why we came on a mission, rules that we have to follow, how the people react to us, etc.  The meeting was during church, so he even came to sacrament meeting with us.  It was super cool! We were about to leave and he had one more question that he was personally wondering.  He said, "I read something on the internet that you guys believe about Kolob and the planets?" Haha. Greeeat! Every missionary loves answering questions about something someone read on the internet, so that was a good time. 

Want to hear a cool story? We have an old investigator named Nelson.  We decided to give him a call, but we have 2 people named Nelson in our phone and we accidentally called the wrong one.  We still made an appointment with this other person in our phone, who we didn't even know and had an appointment with them on Saturday.  They are a family who baptized and even married in the temple forever ago, but they haven’t been to church in like 40 years.  We went and got to know them and made a follow up appointment for next week.  They are really interested in coming back to church and loved having us over. They still pray every day and have faith.  They just kind of fell away from the church and never thought about going back.  Hopefully we can get them coming back to church!

We have looked up a ton of old investigators this past week and made a few appointments.  One of the guys we made an appointment with is named William.  He is a black brotha from Africa and was taught by the missionaries a long time ago and for whatever reason, the contact was lost.  We went to his house and made an appointment and when we met with him, he told us that he still prays every day and reads out of the Book of Mormon once a week.  That just goes to show you that a missionary can never measure their success.  Whoever taught William probably thought nothing came of it, but they taught him how to pray and how important scripture study is and he has remembered that for all these years.

The Zone Leaders came on splits with us this week.  I went with Elder Lyman for the day.  We only had one lesson scheduled and it fell through, so we had a whole stinkin’ day to find.  We looked a couple of people up, but then the GPS died, so we ended up contacting all day.  Contacting can be fun, but not for 6 straight hours.  We decided we were going to talk with everyone that we saw and I mean everyone.  Haha.  We met some very interesting people! We talked to people in the centrum, on the streets, knocked on doors, flagged down bikers and even tried knocking on a parked car door.

This past week has for sure been one of the most solid weeks of my mission.  We worked super hard, but we also had a ton of fun.      Doei.

                                                      -Elder Steenblik

Friday, November 14, 2014

A tender mercy from Elder Glen and Sister Jayne Steenblik serving in the France Paris Mission

Hello cousins!
We are your 2nd cousins - the ones you met during the thunder/rain-wind storm canoeing at Smith & Morehouse a while back.  
Reminder: Glen is son of Gerrit H. and grandson of Jerry(Gerrit) Steenblik and Jayne was a teacher at Willow Canyon Elem for 7 years.

We are now serving a mission in the France Paris Mission and have been assigned to Brussels, the northern border of the Paris Mission, to work with YSAs, missionaries and  attend to some office duties as we process mail concerning legality and drivers license for missionaries in Belgium.

We are excited to tell you we had your darling son Ben and his companion to dinner last night!  And are happy to report how happy and healthy he looks.  After dinner we drove them back to Leuven, about a 20 min. drive from our apartment in Brussels.   We had a great time with them.

This is how we made connections:  Since we handle  the legality papers for missionaries in Belgium,   we noticed (a couple of months ago) ​​ an envelope labeled "Elder Benjamin John Steenblik". We finally got to meet him at the church during Gen. Conf. Priesthood session and again at our church when his stake came for Stake Conf. We got his phone # so we could arrange a time to meet for dinner.   The great part is our address is in his sector - (shared space with the French speakers from our mission & Dutch speakers from the Netherlands mission) - SO it was possible for him to come to our apartment for dinner.  Viola!  We finally worked it out and had a delightful evening with him and his comp. Elder Cockbain.

We may try again to call you, so if you see a weird number on phone it might be us.  our cell is 04 90 42 14 79  -  We have international capability so we can call you, but probably difficult for you to call us.

Bonne journée!  -  Have a good day! 

Glen and Jayne Steenblik /  aka Elder and Soeur Steenblik
Elder Glen Steenblik and Sister Jayne Steenblik, and Elder Benjamin Steenblik

Monday, November 10, 2014

14th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 20

Elder Steenblik's new haircut given by Elder Ryan Cockbain.  (Ben said it's the European way.) 
Elder Benjamin Steenblik with a HUGE maple leaf
Elder Benjamin Steenblik 
In Leuven, Belgium
Elder Steenblik with some missionary friends

Heeey world,

This past week has gotten a lot better missionary work wise.  We went through our whole area book and found old investigators that would be worth looking up, so now we have a fat stack of look-ups to do and that should keep us pretty busy.  We are also trying to focus on some of the inactive members as well.  We have a TON of inactive members that live in our ward area, which is like half of Belgium. They are just as important as the new investigators so we are going to try to look some of them up this coming week.
On Wednesday, we had to travel up to the Netherlands so that I could do some legality stuff.  We were literally on trains from 8 in the morning until 9 that night when we got back.  It was a long freakin' day! I get more tired after a long day of sitting on trains doing nothing than a long day of biking and walking around.

You know how I am always complaining about the horrible smells Belgium has? Well, this past week changed! I realized how much I love being in Belgium.  Picture this....  It was sunset, and we were riding our bikes through the centrum of the city on the cobblestone roads with all of the cool European buildings, and the smell of waffles in the air.  Yes, you could literally smell waffles just riding around that part of the city.  I could definitely get used to that.  And folks, THAT is how you Belgium!

Today we had our Zone P day in Antwerpen and we trained for the upcoming Turkey Bowl.  We balled hard! Our zone is gonna win.... Not a doubt in my mind!

So, haircuts here are ridiculously expensive.  Like 40 bucks! Elder Cockbain has never cut hair and I figured I would save myself some money and do it myself! How hard could it be? It was all going swell until I needed Elder Cockbain's help to finish it off.  He was literally cutting my hair for THREE seconds when I heard the clippers cut a huge chunk of hair and he said, "Oh fetch!!!" Something nobody getting their hair cut ever wants to hear.  Haha.  Basically to sum it up, I have a huge bald spot on the side of my head.  A pretty nasty battle wound! Or maybe a racing stripe! It's bad! Like really bad, but I saved 40 bucks so, BOOM! (Photo above)

This transfer I have the sickest district ever! At our district meeting on Tuesday, we had a blast with each other.  We all get along really well and always have a grand old time.  Well, I don't have much time left, so I gotta go! The church is true and God is your loving Heavenly Father!

Love you all,
                                                        -Elder Steenblik

Monday, November 3, 2014

13th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 19

 Central Station in Antwerp, Belgium
Built between 1895 and 1905.
Antwerp's Central Station Clock & Coat of Arms
Antwerp's Central Station's main hall inside the main dome
Has more the 20 different types of marble and stone.
There are three levels with a shopping center with 30+ diamond shops.
Antwerp's train shed or train platform where Elder Steenblik helped missionaries transfer their luggage
Elder Benjamin Steenblik
The Atomium Building in Brussels, Belgium
Built for the Brussels 1958 World's Fair.
The tubes hold escalators that move visitors to another "sphere."
The top sphere has a panoramic view of Brussels.

Dome is built from iron and glass.
Elder Benjamin Steenblik on Halloween

Wow, what an insane week it has been!

To start the week off, we had our last district meeting before everyone got transferred or went home.  I have good news! Guess who played the opening hymn at our district meeting.... MEEEE.  That's right!!! I play the piano now and Mamma would have been so proud.  All that money that my parents wasted on piano lessons finally paid off and look how far we have come! Afterwards, we went to Dominoes! Good old American pizza.  I forgot how much I have missed pizza.

Wednesday, was the craziest day of my life! We had to meet at the Antwerpen Central Station for transfers.  I said goodbye to Elder Losee and thought I would be on my way, but the problem was my new companion wasn't coming for another 5 hours! I was chillin' at the Antwerpen Station all freakin' day with the Zone Leaders and a couple of the other missionaries.  When a train of missionaries would arrive, we would all run down to the platform and unload all of their stuff and carry it to the next train for them.  We did that all stinkin' day! I have never lifted more weight in my entire life which isn't saying much because I don't work out, but still! Just a special note to all the ladies ages 12 to 27 reading this, by the time I get home, I am probably going to be jacked from lifting luggage every transfer day, so just keep that in mind.

My new companion is Elder Cockbain!!! (Don't worry the "ck" is silent and is pronounced Co-bain.) He is super sick! Get this.... he's not from Utah! He comes from the beautiful land of South Africa.  He is white and speaks with an Australian accent.  Whaaat? I'm pretty sure he is just lying to me and is actually from Australia or England. I mean, I'm not a raciest, but I imagined him to be black and have a thick African accent, but I love him either way.  He is a super good missionary and I can tell I am going to learn a lot from him.

I have been super sick this week.  Every night around 7 o'clock my voice is just gone and throughout the day, I sound horrible.  I sound like that woman in the anti-tobacco commercials with the hole in her throat.  It is bad, but hopefully it will start getting better now.

This week has been beautiful weather.  Actually, we had one of the warmest November days recorded in the last 100 years.  That's a pretty big deal!

Missionary work here goes suuuuper slow! With the start of the new transfer, we are basically starting from scratch.  I can't even tell you how many doors we have knocked this week and not one single appointment was made.  It is super discouraging! Most people just politely say no thank you and that they aren't interested, but then there are some who yell and slam the door.  We are still on the hunt to find the people who are ready to hear the gospel and this week will be another long week of finding new people to teach.  We met a guy this week who was so fascinated with how white our shirts were.  He asked us where we got them whitened and we said we just wash them ourselves and he couldn't believe it.  He had never seen shirts so white and that was basically the most successful contact we had all week.

We had our ward Halloween party this week and it was super fun.  Everyone was dressed up in their costumes, well, at least the kids and me.  We carved pumpkins, ate good food, and played "Just Dance."  I will not confirm or deny the rumors that I went hard on the dance floor, but I will say, YES.... I did get 3 stars.

I had another weird meal this week. It was French fries with horse meat on top and that was the whole meal.  Just fries and horse.  Go Belgium!!!!!

Today we went to Brussels with all the Elders from our district.  I got to meet all of the new Elders in my district this transfer and it was super fun.  They are all hilarious! We went to the Atomium which was suuuper sick. After that, we called up the Paris Elders and went back to that chocolate factory with the all you can eat free chocolate.  It was just as amazing as the last time! After, we went to lunch with them and walked around the Brussels Centrum.  It was a super good P-day.

Well, the work here is slow but must go on! We will work our best this week and maybe even see some success while we are at it.   Love you all,

                                    -Elder Steenblik